Yesterday, the City of Seattle filed draft legislation for police accountability reform with the federal court overseeing the consent decree process. The court will now decide whether any part of the legislation conflicts with the consent decree. If the court clears the draft, the City Council will take up the legislation and consider potential revisions.
This document reflects hard work and leadership over many years by the the Community Police Commission (CPC), the Office of the Mayor, and many other stakeholders. This is a step in the right direction.
Before the consent decree, there was no community police commission to represent Seattle’s diverse communities in providing input to ensure that police services were delivered in a lawful, nondiscriminatory manner. Also, Seattle’s accountability system had no one who could effectively conduct broad, systemic reviews of Seattle Police Department (SPD) practices and make recommendations to make SPD better for everyone. A city of more than 650,000 people and a police force of 1,300 sworn officers can do better than that.
The draft legislation would create a permanent CPC to ensure that the community has a seat at the table after the Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s Office, and federal monitor finish their work. The draft legislation would also create an Office of the Inspector General (OIG) with broad powers not only to review individual investigations of police misconduct but to conduct reviews of the system and recommend policy changes. In my opinion, these reforms are a step in the right direction.
I hope and believe that the city will continue to have a good faith dialogue about policing, and of course City Council will have insights and contributions of its own when it is presented with the draft legislation.
Keep an eye on this.
Office of the Mayor’s Press Release says in part:
The legislation is a collaborative product of months-long discussions with the Community Police Commission, Federal Monitor Merrick Bobb, the City and many other stakeholders. The proposal creates an independent office of Inspector General, transforms the Community Police Commission (CPC) into a permanent body, and increases the scope and independence of SPD’s Office of Professional Accountability (OPA).
At Crosscut.com, David Kroman writes an article entitled, “Tracking Mayor Ed Murray’s Compromises on Police Reform.”
And Daniel Beekman at the Seattle Times quotes the CPC co-chairs:
The proposal appears at first blush to be a victory of sorts for CPC members fighting to make the group a permanent part of the police-accountability setup.
“The package would make the CPC permanent. How robust and independent it would be remains to be seen,” CPC co-chairs Lisa Daugaard and Harriett Walden said in a written statement. “The commission believes that all of the proposed oversight bodies should have real clout as an acknowledgment of the seriousness of the problems we’ve historically faced in Seattle, as a reflection of the right of the community to have a meaningful voice on policing, and as protection against interference with oversight work.”